The main attributes that people look for in their leaders have not changed much in the past five years.

This is the conclusion of the latest Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KCLM), which has tracked global views on leadership for five years.

The survey, conducted annually by public relations and marketing agency Ketchum, highlights the qualities people expect their leaders to have, overall levels of confidence in leaders and also offers some lessons for leaders seeking to improve.

Which qualities do people look for in leaders?

The attribute people are looking for most is leading by example. It has taken the top spot for the past three years, and featured in the top three in 2012 and 2013.

 A five-year global view on leadership
Image: Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor

Open communication is also seen as a vital skill for leaders. It topped the list in 2012 and 2013, and this year came second with over two-thirds of respondents saying they look for it in a leader.

Admitting mistakes and handling crises calmly have also featured consistently across the past five years.

Clearly people know what they’re looking for, but leaders don’t seem to be delivering.

Just one in four people think leaders are effective overall, and the majority don’t see their leaders as effective communicators. And they don’t think the situation is going to improve either. Just 17% of people feel confident that their leaders will perform better in 2017.

5 ways to become a better leader

The report suggests a number of lessons to become a better leader.

- Leaders should set clear expectations. They shouldn’t say things that they’ll go back on later.

- Leaders should embrace transparency, through listening and understanding.

- They should set out a clear vision – one that acknowledges mistakes and strives for improvements.

- They should encourage leadership at every level of the organisation.

- Leaders must make sure they embrace and actively promote diversity and equality.